Tag Archives: run for a reason

Random Running Snippets, Few Apertures

Gotta love all that bling! (Not sure if there was a medal in 2003)

Gotta love all that bling! (Not sure if there was a medal in 2003)

Some random thoughts about last Sunday’s Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon while my quads gently scream (with apologies to the late George Harrison):

My dear close friends and family, who are almost all nonrunners, marvel at my half-marathon “achievements” (some don’t even know the difference between the half and the full marathon). They make it seem like I’ve climbed Mt. Everest! Being more of a slogger than even a jogger, it’s kind of embarrassing; it probably makes my running pals, all of whom are much faster than me, roll their eyes when they read their lovely Facebook comments.

While I do appreciate the adulation, here’s the total truth: Unless you have physical limitations, anyone can finish these events (heck, several blind runners led by dedicated guides completed the marathon). It’s a simple process: Train for the distance for four to six months. Then on race day put one foot in front of the other. Repeat until you at least cross the finish line. Bam! They put a medal on you! Bask in the glow while your body pleads for mercy for several days.

Finishing a half or full marathon is an awesome accomplishment. I recommend crossing it off your bucket list next January in Houston!

Back Off!

I thought about my former college roommate Jan during Sunday’s event. Given her nursing background, it was no surprise that she had posted on Facebook hints for avoiding the flu. One biggie? No hand contact. So what did runners see along the route? Lots of spectators wanting to give us high fives. Ugh! I’ve had the flu shot, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t get sick from someone else’s germs . . . no matter how well-intended the gesture is.

Around mile 10, a guy held a sign that read “High Five 4 Power.” I gave him a virtual high five . . . and stayed very far away. Love our wonderful supporters’ spirit and enthusiasm. Just not their potential viruses.

Don’t Mess With the Course

I hate to say it, but some runners are selfish slobs. Too many of them drop their excess wearables, especially trash bags that were worn for protection against the rain, on the ground as they’re running without any concern for those behind them who could easily trip over these discards, hurting or ending their own race. I figured it was just the guys who were guilty (having lived with three males who forget that hangars do exist all these years) until I watched a gal toss her sheddable jacket behind her as we neared the finish.

How hard is it to run to the side of the road and put bags, gloves, hats, and jackets there? Or drape them on a cone? Please take the time to keep your fellow runners safer!

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Still Fundraising

Thinking about who you’re running for is a great distraction during these long-distance races. In the latter stages of the half marathon, from mile nine on, I tried to concentrate more on my family members who have battled heart- and stroke-related problems than on how cold, wet, and miserable I felt. It actually helped!

You still can donate to my Run for a Reason cause, by the way. Just click on this link: The American Heart Association. Thanks for making a difference!

Please Donate!

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Looking for a great cause to support, one that’s also tax-deductible? Please donate to the American Heart Association, which is the charity I’m running for during the January 13th Aramco Houston Half Marathon through its Run for a Reason program.

According to the AHA, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, more deadly than all forms of cancer. More than 2,200 Americans die of heart disease every day, one death every 39 seconds. Someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, with a stroke-related death occurring every four minutes.

Those are sobering numbers. My father suffered a heart attack, my father-in-law a stroke, I have friends and a dear cousin battling heart problems, and I have other pals who have lost their loved ones to heart attacks. I want the AHA to be able to help as many people as possible.

The American Heart Association’s mission is to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent by 2020. This is an aggressive disease that needs the AHA’s aggressive response.

Any amount of money will help this important cause, from one dollar on up. Just click here: Run for a Reason. Thanks for helping the AHA kick heart disease to the curb.

Running for Another New Reason

It’s a badge of honor!

Now that I’ve logged a 10-mile run, I can somewhat confidently look ahead towards my ultimate goal: Finishing my eighth Aramco Houston Half Marathon on January 13.  That date will be here before we know it, and I’m hopeful that a few more long runs will make me believe that I’m ready to tackle those 13.1 miles without cursing the cruel racing gods for not blessing me with decent running DNA.

Helping to ease the pain (“Ease his pain”—remember what movie that quote is from? And, yes, I did whisper it.) of my ornery right foot that starts burning after six miles and make me go the distance (yep, same flick) is the knowledge that for the fourth straight year I’ll be running for others.

Thanks to the Chevron Houston Marathon and its attendant half marathon’s Run for a Reason fundraising program, I’ve helped raise money for the the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in 2010 and 2011 and Susan G. Komen for the Cure this past January.

For 2013’s race, I’ve selected yet another new cause: The American Heart Association. My father suffered a non-fatal heart attack in the early 1980s, while my dear cousin Eileen has suffered with heart problems. I have friends who also are dealing with heart issues, while others, including our good friend Eric, have lost their fathers due to heart attacks.

Obviously, it’s time to kick heart disease to the curb! Won’t you join me in this fight by donating? Any dollar amount is appreciated. Just click here.

Thanks for helping me make a difference!

Sidebar: “Field of Dreams,” of course! Love that movie!!

Weather Watching Again

The weather according to my iMac

Yes, I’m at it again—for the seventh time I’m running the Aramco Houston Half Marathon through the streets of Houston Sunday, which means I’ve been obsessively checking out weather websites all week.

Accuweather’s take on the forecast

Like most runners, I prefer cool temperatures for long runs like this 13.1-miler. But I don’t like it cold (it was 27 degrees overnight, so I’m glad the race wasn’t today) or too warm like last year (60 degrees). For me, about 50 degrees with a light breeze is just perfect. But like me, Houston’s weather tends to be far from perfect, especially on race day.

Here’s what the National Weather Service says.

As you can see from the three photos, there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on what the low temperature will be Sunday morning. But I have a feeling it’ll be about 45 degrees, which means a short-sleeve t-shirt and shorts for me (the temps were similar in 2010). It’ll be chilly at the start, but it shouldn’t be too warm by the time I jog past the finish line (hopefully).

After that, I’m looking forward to resting my legs and rooting our Houston Texans on to victory against the hated Baltimore Ravens in the NFL playoffs. Gooooo, Texans!

Running for a Reason

It’s not too late to help me raise money for the Susan G. Komen Run for the Cure! I really appreciate the support. I’ll be thinking about my friends Sheri and Janet as I’m jogging along—they will inspire me to keep pressing onward. Plus I know I’ll get a lift at mile 10 when I remember Rob T., who just underwent a long, harrowing surgery for neurofibrosarcoma. There’s no way I can have my usual pity party there when I consider what he’s had to endure (he’s also a stage IV tonsilar cancer survivor).

Thanks for being on my shoulders Sunday, Sheri, Janet, and Rob!

Survivor Power!

My mom and I share a laugh several years ago.

My beloved mom and her terrific twin sister celebrated their 82nd birthdays yesterday. What a joyous occasion for our families!

It’s especially great, because my mom is a breast cancer survivor. She fought a tough battle (lumpectomy, chemo, and radiation), and her yearly scans have been fine so far.

As I’ve noted before, I’m running the January 15th Chevron Houston Marathon (or Aramco Half Marathon, depending on how my right foot holds up during these last long runs) and raising money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. This is my way of supporting my friends Sheri and Janet E., who currently are battling the dreaded disease and have inspired me with their positive attitudes.

But I’m also running in honor of my mom and her fellow survivors. I hope you’ll help me raise funds by clicking on this link:  Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Let’s kick cancer to the curb!

Happy birthday weekend, Mom! You’ve always been my hero.

Running for a New Reason

This year’s fundraising cause

Want to come along with me as I run the Chevron Houston Marathon on January 15? Help me raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

For the fourth straight year, I’m fundraising through the marathon’s wonderful Run for a Reason program. But this time, I’ve changed the recipient. In the past I’ve run for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which is near and dear to my heart because too many of my loved ones (especially my father, stepfather, and cousin Lisa) have died from blood cancers. Plus now my friends’ kids have fought them.

Sheri when she had hair

But this time I’ve been inspired and motivated by a couple friends who are battling breast cancer. Sheri was diagnosed just this fall. We’ve known each other since our #1 sons were in the first grade.

Janet has lost her hair again. (Photo by Janie Picou)

Meanwhile, breast cancer has been a part of Janet’s life since 2001. She and I became buds through her sister Claire, whose #2 son is the same age as my older boy.

I’m counting on the motivation from these two lovely ladies to push me through those 26.2 miles. And I’m hoping that my readers will help those miles count by donating at this link:  Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Let’s kick breast cancer to the curb! Thanks for all your help and for keeping Sheri and Janet in your thoughts.

Run for a Reason Again

Stephanie (middle) dances with the Angels during halftime at a football game.

I’ve been a somewhat-dedicated runner, jogger (at my current snail-like pace), or walker since 1978. Enjoying the great outdoors (I’m not coordinated enough to use a treadmill) for miles at a time is a very selfish pursuit. It’s a great chance to clear your mind, think of blog posts and photo ops, and re-energize for battling strong-willed teenagers.

Every now and then, I actually train for and finish a race (usually January’s Aramco Half-Marathon). It’s satisfying to set a goal and achieve it, no matter how long it takes to cross the finish line. And it’s especially fulfilling to have yet another purpose amid that selfish pursuit: Raising funds for a worthy cause.

For the second straight year, I’m participating in the January 30th Chevron Houston Marathon/Aramco Half-Marathon’s Run for a Reason program. Once again, my chosen charity is the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, a cause that’s near and dear to me. Blood cancers have cut short the lives of my father, stepfather, cousin Lisa, and my dear former neighbor’s father, Dick Jones, who I ran in honor of last year.

I’m also honoring the memory of Sue Van Natta, a tireless fundraiser for LLS, who passed away from breast cancer this past summer.

Stephanie shows her exuberance.

While I plan to draw energy during the race from the memories of loved ones and friends, I’m also going to gain inspiration from Stephanie, a classmate of my younger son. The fellow high school sophomore was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma this past February 18. She endured four months of chemo and a month of radiation. But she’s come back strong—her latest scans show no sign of cancer, and she’s had a wonderful season with our high school’s dance team. Who wouldn’t be motivated by her story to run well?

I sincerely hope that this also will motivate you, my cherished readers, to click on this link and donate to support my fundraising efforts. Let’s kick blood cancers to the curb!

A Charming Marathon Expo

Is that all we get? Half a t-shirt? (Olympus Stylus Tough camera)

One highlight of Houston’s annual marathon and half marathon is the expo, where we pick up our packets a day or two before the big event. As well as great deals on clothing and gear plus freebies and food.

We’re fortunate that the Chevron Houston Marathon is staged at the George R. Brown Convention Center, a great place to go before the start and after the finish. It’s also terrific for the expo.

Which one is Janet and which one is the mannequin?

My friend Janet and I have driven together to the expo now for six straight years. It’s become a ritual for us. We get to catch up on what’s going on with our kids (her daughter is the same age as my #2 son) and talk about our goals for Sunday’s race (she was running the marathon). It’s something to look forward to all year!

Got a proofreader?

One new expo wrinkle, at least for me, was that those of us who participated in the Run for a Reason program earned a special packet, which included a hat. I almost didn’t want to wait in line to get my goodies because of the “HEROE’S” mistake. Move that apostrophe in back of the S!

As always, Janet and I scored some bargains and a few cute freebies as we walked among the many booths and vendors.

Very charming!

Then we saw a new vendor that we just had to investigate. Marathon charms! What an interesting idea!! Well, until I looked a little bit closer at one of the “charms.”

Not so charming!

According to the website, the outhouse charm is “a fun way to remind you where you spend some of the time on the race course!” Yeah, right! Would any runner really want to proudly display a port-a-can charm on their bracelet?!?

Janet always says that going to the expo with me brings her luck. Did it work this year? Well, she finished the marathon in 3:50:54. She qualified for the prestigious Boston Marathon!!

Looks like that makes me a lucky charm!

Random Running Snippets & iPhone Apertures

Me pre-race (note Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS watch) complete with my Hero hat

Wondering how I did in yesterday’s Aramco Half-Marathon?

Short version: I finished with a wide smile on my face and tears in my eyes.

Longer version: I finished with a wide smile on my face, tears in my eyes, and with my left arch hurting almost every step of the way. That had plagued me in training. But numb feet had not; unfortunately, I suffered with those from miles three through six, forcing me to walk from time to time until I could feel my toes again.

Thankfully, my tootsies felt fine once I hit mile seven, so after that I only walked through water stops and when I ingested Gu energy gel. Oh, and when I took iPhone 3Gs photos, which I uploaded to Facebook along the way.

I wasn't the only one taking iPhone photos at the start.

I figured I’d try to take iPhone photos and keep updating my Facebook status during the race. In hindsight, it would’ve been much better to have used my Olympus Stylus Tough point-and-shoot camera. It was awkward stopping mid-race to take a photo, typing in a caption (especially considering I wasn’t wearing my reading glasses), and then hoping AT&T would allow me to upload it to Facebook. I missed out on lots of potentially good pix of cute signs and even cuter babies. And that guy at the half-marathon start wearing a Lion King costume. Wonder if he finished still wearing it? It got pretty warm.

Lots of people in front of me as we head towards mile two. Guess I'm not going to win!

We did have perfect running weather—it was about 45 degrees at the start at 7 a.m. and about 60 degrees when I finished around 10 a.m. Which means that probably half the participants overdressed. Those who were wearing tights, jackets, gloves, and beanies looked like the temps were still frozen over from last weekend!

I felt very comfortable in a short-sleeved t-shirt and shorts, complete with my Hero running hat that I earned by raising funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Oh, and my Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS watch. Why was that important? Because, as in 2008, it showed that I actually ran 13.3 miles instead of 13.1. Oh, that aching extra two-tenths!!

Heading up a hill just past 10K (6.2 miles).

The race starts with the half-marathoners and those running the Chevron Houston Marathon on separate streets. We mesh together around mile two until mile nine where the halfers blissfully turn around (180 degrees) and head for the finish. The organizers like to boast that the course is flat . . . but it is NOT! There are enough hills in the first seven miles to stretch out our legs and tighten our arches (well, my left one).

Cresting the hill over Allen Parkway nearing mile 7. As we're running outbound, faster runners are about to turn near mile 11.

Here were my plans for the race: First goal always is to finish. My second goal was to break three hours. That’s a slow pace and nowhere near my personal best, but my training had been done at snail speed. Mentally, I was going to concentrate on just getting into the swing of things for the first two miles, which includes the much-hated (by me) Elysian Viaduct. At least two people slipped and fell behind me as we approached the first mile on the viaduct. I’ll bet they hate it, too.

Sidebar: Years ago there was talk about getting rid of the viaduct, which is a concrete overpass. I volunteered to be the one pushing the plunger when it came time to dynamite it! But, alas, it still stands if only to torment me every year.

After the Elysian, I was going to think about the six people in whose memory I raised funds for LLS. The first was Dick Jones at mile three, then my dad, my stepdad, my cousin Lisa, Don Queen, and Ron Kalteyer at the subsequent miles. After that I felt like all of them were on my back spurring me along to the finish.

The halfers will turn around in 200 yards!

Two of the best aspects of Houston’s premier marathon/half-marathon event are its volunteers and spectators. We couldn’t have a successful race without thousands of helpers. And those watching make us feel like running gods and goddesses, as well as providing plenty of distractions. I saw so many great signs along the course! Some I remember were “Run like you stole something!” and “So easy a caveman could do it.” There also were live bands and boom boxes providing great music along the way.

No balloons for my pity party at mile 10?

Once I made the turn at mile nine, I focused on one sight: That mile 10 banner. I just couldn’t wait until I was able to have my very own pity party and feel sorry for myself and my aches and pains. Funny thing, though—by mile 10, I was rolling along at a decent clip for me. Sure, my arch was hurting, but it wasn’t slowing down my pace any, and I knew that in a mere mile we would be on Allen Parkway running along with the fast marathoners across the median. Plus I had those six precious souls riding on my shoulders whispering in my ear, “You can do it!” Cancel that pity party!

Mile 11 is a good time for prayer!

Houston’s Christian radio station had several prayer stations set up along the course. What a great idea . . . even for those of us who are Jewish! All runners are grateful for divine intervention late in a race.

My biggest disappointment once we got off Allen Parkway and headed through downtown towards the finish line at the George R. Brown Convention Center? No Elvis sighting! That’s the first time I haven’t seen the supposedly dead rock ’n roller during either the half (now five finishes) or marathon (eight finishes).

Disappointment reigns for those who finished behind me.

Finally, there was the most-spectacular sight of the entire 13.1-mile race: The finish line! Why do we run races? To finish them! As always, when I crossed the line, I looked to the sky to thank my dad for being along with me.

And then I thought of Dick Jones, who I had hoped so much would be there at the finish watching me run for him. He was there in spirit, of course, interrupting his golf game in heaven to ride on my shoulders. I couldn’t help but break into a wide smile and start to cry.

A Warrior’s Battle Is Over

Patty and Dick Jones

Patty and Dick Jones

An old warrior has now been laid to rest. Dick Roland Jones, the father of my neighbor JJ the organizational whiz, peacefully passed away from cancer last night.

Mr. Jones, one of the most amazing and interesting people you could ever meet, battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for six months. It was a fight that inspired me to sign up for the Chevron Houston Marathon and fundraise for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through the marathon’s Run for a Reason program.

Mr. Jones’ untimely death saddens me so much. He was a wonderful husband, father, brother, grandfather, and friend. But his passing also pushes me to train harder and better for the January 17th marathon. I know he’ll be my guardian running angel, encouraging me along the dreadful hills of Allen Parkway during the later miles. He and the others whose memories I’m running for—my father, my stepfather, my cousin Lisa, my friend Karen’s brother Ron, and my neighbor Tami’s father Don—will be in my heart every step of the 26.2 miles. They will give me strength when I’m running out.

I’m pleased that people have been donating to the LLS through my Run for a Reason webpage. I hope more of you will give, so that we can one day find a cure for this dreaded disease. Any amount—big, small, or in between—is appreciated. You never know if it will be YOUR $5 that funds the research that finally cures these horrible blood cancers.

Mr. Jones: You will be missed but never forgotten. Rest in peace, brave warrior.